Life imitates art.
I’ve just been watching a video on Youtube, of a 2007 Discovery Channel show about the bright shiny future of 2057. This is 40 minutes long. It has some clever (if a little ham-fisted) technological prognostications. (What I find most interesting: advertising is mentioned, but distinctly downplayed. That much seems disingenuous.)
I’m reminded of a short story by Ray Bradbury: “The Veldt,” first published in 1950. It’s about a family–George and Lydia Hadley, and their children Wendy and Peter–who live in a highly-automated state-of-the-art smart home of the future, “this house which clothed and fed and rocked them to sleep and played and sang and was good to them.” The most sophisticated of the house’s subsystems (what we might call a holodeck) manifests in the nursery. Under the control of the Hadleys’ children, the nursery begins to exhibit peculiar and dangerous emergent properties.
From my perspective today in 2014, Ray Bradbury’s fictional smart house seems much closer to hand, with antecedents in today’s as-yet-crude VR technologies. And surely, as Bradbury foretold in 1950: our technologies are changing us in sometimes disturbing ways.
I’ve found the story online, not sure how durable this link will be, but do read it if you get the opportunity. It’s a beautiful period piece of mid-century sci-fi, from one of the great masters:
I’ve just learned also that you can have the story read to you by Stephen Colbert:
Note, that’s a 3-part Youtube playlist, not sure if it will advance automatically but the video player controls should give you full access.